Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Two Questions To Ask When Writing a Sequel

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Two Questions To Ask When Writing a Sequel

Action scenes and sequels drove me crazy until I figured out a way to deal with them.

Image Source Pixabay

My simple view of action and sequel:

POV Goal: Girl wants to put beloved fish in new tank.

Action: Girl trips, her hand flops, and the glass tips. The fish falls out. Girl scrambles on floor, gets fish, and puts in tank.

Sequel: Girl mad at herself for dropping fish but proud she saved it.


The Scene: Action or Sequel?

The common terms to define an event in a novel are “scene” and “sequel”, but I find this confusing as “scene” is too generic for me. I use “action” or “sequel” when I’m evaluating my scenes.

An action scene is where something happens. This is written mostly via movement and dialogue. Usually, description and character internalizations during the action scene are kept to a minimum. The point of view character’s goal often drives the action.

A sequel is where a character reacts to the events that happened in the action scene. This can be an emotional reaction, a decision made, or just thoughts. If you do this right, your reader will feel connected to your character.


To Write a Sequel:

At the end of each action scene, ask yourself:

  1. How did the action affect the POV character?
  2. How did the action affect the protagonist if it’s not the same character as the POV character for the scene?

The answers will help you create a sequel that works with the action.

The answers may also help you resolve plot holes. For example, you may find a character felt something you didn’t want them to feel till much later in the novel.

If you have a character whose flaw at the beginning of the story is fear of intimate relationships, and this is the flaw that will change by the end of the story, you don’t want to have a scene mid-novel where the character has an intensely intimate moment with another character.

You want the big change in your character to occur during the climax scene.

You can hint at how the character feels or reacted, so there is growth throughout the story, but don’t solve the flaw until the climax scene.


Keep Track of How Many Scenes are Action or Sequel

Depending on the genre, you’ll want to balance action versus sequel scenes. Action scenes increase the pace of your story. Sequels can be used to slow the pace.

In a thriller, you’ll focus on action scenes. Your readers will still need some sequels to catch their breath and stay connected to the hero.

In a character-driven story, write more sequels than in a thriller so your readers form an intense emotional connection with your characters.

It’s important to know your genre and what works for that genre.


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37 thoughts on “Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Two Questions To Ask When Writing a Sequel

  1. Wow. I started to read this thinking you were talking about a second book. A sequel to the first. This word used this way was totally new to me. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and useful.

    Laurie Mueller
    250-213-2355
    “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”
    ― Maya Angelou

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    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read about this and it works with heavy action stories where the reader would be exhausted because it is action-action-action. The sequel helps the reader, and the writer, catch their breath. That said, most editors are looking for deep point of view and that means micro action/reactions throughout the scene. You may want to do an internet search on Motivation-Reaction Units to learn about this–if you haven’t already. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Anna above. We can exhaust the reader if the story is mostly action, action, and more action. I’ve heard of Action and reaction, and scene and sequel. Taking a breather and allowing for reaction or “sequel” as you call it will help the reader understand why the protagonist or character is doing or has done what he has done or start to set up the next sequence. Thanks, Kristina!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One thing I really enjoy about your posts each month is the way you can translate things I wrangle with into clear, concise ideas that can be named and quantified. I’m not sure that the word ‘sequel’ quite fits for me, but it gives me something to think about and it’s miles better than the rising and falling I’ve been using so far.

    Thanks for an illuminating post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Freaking revolutionary, Kristina. You have successfully fixed the two major problems I have with every other articles I’ve read about scenes/sequels. Yes, ‘scene’ is too confusing, and it should be called something else. I like ‘action.’ Second, and for crying out loud, I don’t care what anyone says, I am not going to put a sequel after every scene in my thrillers and mysteries. I will have them reflect, but perhaps only in passing during the next ‘action,’ instead of slowing everything down for a sequel. THANK YOU! Will add this to my Facebook schedule. Send this article to Writers Digest or something, because seriously, you’re saying stuff I’m not reading out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s interesting. I’ve heard a lot about action, reaction, setup, and deepening, but I haven’t heard nearly as much about the action and sequel relationship. It’s definitely interesting. There are so many different ways of understanding and evaluating a scene or beat. As I think about it, I think there’s also room for some sequels to draw out and overlap with the next action, depending on how impactful the prior action was. Definitely good food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really like the idea of breaking down how many scenes and sequels are in a novel. I never thought to try it with some of the books I read so I can get a feel (besides instinct alone) of the balance for my genre. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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